College students hope for lower interest rates

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A bill is on the president's desk that could impact millions of college students and their parents. If signed, interest rates on student loans will drop to half the current rate.

Karlene Overby and her husband are in college pursing teaching. She is a stay at home mom with their five children, and he works to support the family and their schooling. When they found out student loan interest rates doubled in July, they were devastated.

"He would not go," Overby said. "He said he would not, and let me go because it would be too expensive to pay it back. We wouldn't be able to afford it."

The Overbys are not alone. At MGCCC, 70 to 80 percent of students rely on loans to be able to afford college.

MGCCC JD Campus Director of Financial Aid Stephanie Messer-Roy said, "It's very vital. It helps keep them on track, it helps them complete their degrees. It also makes them responsible lenders. If interest rates are lower, they are more likely to pay back their loan and not go into default."

After months of negotiations, Congress has agreed on a deal that would bring student loan interest rates back down. Right now, students are being charged 6.8 percent interest, but the bill will cut it nearly in half to 3.9 percent.

The bill would also adjust any loans made at the higher rate.

"Typically our students borrow about $5,000 a year and that would be tremendous to pay back. And students who defer until graduation, that does compound on them pretty well," Roy said.

To put this into perspective, for a ten year, $5,000 loan, students would save $870 with the lower interest rate.

"Now we can go to school and not worry about the bill growing to an enormous amount we can't afford," Overby said.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation, but until he does, the interest rate remains at 6.8 percent.

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